Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

Causes of TMJ Misalignment

Your TMJ can become injured in a variety of ways that result in painful movement, or your bite being off-centre  There are many causes of jaw pain and dysfunction - some of which we have listed below.

TRAUMA : Some people sustain a trauma to the joint which results in hypermobility or excessive movement.  The unequal movement between sides can then lead to accelerated wear and tear of the joint structures and impact the way that muscles work around each joint.

GRINDING : Your dentist may have remarked that you are "a bruxer" and recommended a night guard to protect your teeth from wear. All of that grinding and clenching of the jaw while you sleep can also have an effect on your TMJ joints. It can result in joint or disc injury as well as muscle tension and pain.

POSTURE : Most people don't realize that many of the muscles that control their jaw also attach to their upper neck.  Posture can influence the amount of stress on your TMJ.

While these are some causes of TMJ pain, most people who seek help with their TMJ can not point to one specific incident.  It is quite common for patients to describe a condition that came on slowly and gets worse over time.

What Are The Symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ symptoms can be mild or quite severe. They can progress to the point that patients have a difficult time eating solid food. Here are a list of common symptoms that patients experience when dealing with TMJ dysfunction.

  • Pain in the TMJ joint
  • Popping or clicking
  • Locking of the jaw in an open position or closed position
  • Muscle spasm at the angle of their jaw and on the side of their head
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

How does Treatment Eliminate TMJ Dysfunction and Pain?

IMPROVING TMJ JOINT MOBILITY:  If a patient is assessed to have TMJ arising from an immoble TMJ joint (usually as a result of some past physical trauma that resulted in stiffness) the physiotherapist can use manual therapy techniques to get the immoble TMJ moving properly again. They will then prescribe specific stretches that will help you to maintain the range of motion improvement between visits.

REDUCING TMJ MUSCLE SPASM:  Physiotherapists are anatomy experts and understand how to assess the muscles of your TMJ. Often we find that muscle spasm preventing the TMJ joint from recovering. Manual therapy techniques to reduce spasm will help to improve joint alignment and movement, ultimately resulting in less pain!

STRENGTHENING FOR HYPERMOBILE TMJ JOINTS: Some patients have a TMJ joint that moves WAY too easily, way too much or in a poor pattern. Your physiotherapist can recognize this problem and help with treatments and exercises that strengthen weak muscles and improve your natural movement patterns.

POSTURAL TRAINING: Changing that forward head posture makes a big difference for some people who suffer from TMJ dysfunction. We teach patients how to strengthen postural muscles and lengthen shortened tissues so that they can improve their head position. Your clinician will also make suggestions that will help set up your workstation, car or anywhere else you spend a lot of time sitting to promote a better body position.

PAIN RELIEF FOR TMJ DYSFUNCTION: When patients are in a lot of pain and just need some relief so that they can begin to make the changes outlined above, a Physiohaus clinician can relieve the pain with thermal modalities, acupuncture and gentle manual therapy.

At Physiohaus, we will do a thorough assessment of your specific TMJ related complaints and match the treatment plan to the cause of your symptoms.

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